(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "A practical English phonetic spelling system / R. Byron Bird."

A PRACTICAL ENGLISH PHONETIC 
SPELLING SYSTEM 



R. Byron Bird 



University of Maryland 
iiiiarch 26, ly45 



V 



SUMUAHT 

The purpose of this thesis is to present a solution 
to the problem of English epellingj herein I havs shown the 
reasoning which led me to the devslopment of the practical phonetic 
system herein exposed. The reasoning is divided into three partes 
(a) analysis of the faults of the present system, (b) possibilities 
and suggestions for correction, and (c) choosing a practical and 
simple scheme. 



R. Byron Bird 
karch 26, 19^5 



-1- 



A PRACTICAL ENGLISH PHONETIC SPELLII\'G SYSTEM 

A STATE OF DISORDER. 

The inconeietency of English spelling haa long been a source of 
mental perplexity to the novice and, to the veteran, a sourca or perpetual 
irritation. In Shakespeare's time, conformity in spelling was unheard of, 
and a man was at liberty to transcribe his words as he so desired- Ever 

since the publication of Bsn JoJTinson' s well-known 
dictionary, scholars have sought uniformity in the 
English system of spelling. Today, we have unifonnity 
in spelling in that most words liave a definite spell- 
ing, be it 10i^ical or not. Ifet, from the phon3tic 
point of view, English spelling is in a state of extreme disorder. These 
inconsistencies may well be illustr&ted by a man by the name of Turner, who 
claimed that he had a perfect ri^^ht to spell hie name "Phtholo^nyrrh, " since 
hthisic is pronounced "tlzlk"j c olon el, "kurn«l"j .^lat, "nXt"; and i nyrrh . 



eve 


old j 


he_re 
_event 
_end 
silent 


odd 1 
orb j 
s oft ] 
connect j 


Plate 1. i 

___^— _' 



' mur • 



WHAT IS mWQ WITH ENGLISH SPELLING? 

The two faults of English spelling are (l) that one symbol may 

represent a host of different sounds (see Plate l) and (2) that one sound 

is represented by more than one symbol (see Plate 2). The obvious remedy 

for this chaotic situation would be to develop a system 
in which every sound would be represented i?y one symbol. 
Spanish and Italian almost satisfy this condition, and 
there is no reason why English could not be made to do the 
same. However, a many-sided problem arises when one com- 
mences to prescribe the method for a reform of the system 

of spelling of the English language. 



bead 

heed 

eye 

amoeba 

machi^na 

seize 

siege 

Plate 2. 



-2- 



» conmutator: 


komutat^r 


* dividabls: 


drvTd<i-b'l 


J thereafter: 


■^feWaral't^r 


j naturalism: 


na^rft^feiii 


1 Plat 


e 5. 



METHODS OF REFORM. 

A SIMPLIFIED SPELLING SYSTEM. Many unsystamatic individuals 
believe that words should be "written just like they sound." Suggestions 
have been made to modify the present system to make it so ewhat more logical, 
dropping silent "e* s, " replacing "ph" by "f," 
and similar simplifications. This idea merits 
little consideration, as there would still re- 
main phonetic irregularities. If there is to 
be a reform, it should be an accurate, scientific improvement. 

WEBSTER'S SYSTEM. Using a system of orthography such as that of 
Webster, ambiguity and inconsistency could be reduced to nil. A scheme of 
this type would be most accurate, to be surej but the unwieldy diacritical 
marks render the system totally impractical for everyday use by the ordinary 
individual. Reading and writing wouid be quite difficult, and the jobs of 

typing and typesetting would be onerous. Some of the 
complications might be imagined from Plate 5. 

TIffi INTERNATIONAL FHQI-ISTIO ALPHABET. 
Why not invent additional new symbols and discard the 
diacritical marks? Following this suggestion, the 
International Phonetic Alphabet (I. P. A.) might be employed. There are in 
English about forty fundamental sound sj consequently, an alphabet of about 
fiorty letters would satisfy the conditions. Here again, the scheme seems 
satisfactory until its practicability is considered. All of the present type 
would be immediately antiquated, and new type would become a necessity. All 
typewriters would have to be remodeled, working a tremendous hardship on 
typists. Such machines would be quite unwieldy, for adding about fifteen 
new characters to a machine would make any stenographer shudder. The cost 



as in short ' 



d^ as in jump j 

^ as in chap J 

n as in sing j 

/v\ as in whim j 

Plate 4. I 



V 



/ 



-5- 

of 8uch an undertaking would be phenomenal and prohibitive. In Plate 4 are 
shown soma of the additional symbols of the I. P. A. 

A PRACTICAL SYSTEM. During the past several years, I have bean 
developing a system of practical phonetic transcription which I feel is v/orthy 
of consideration. It employs twenty-seven letters — those of the present 



Vowels { 




Diphthongs! 


t 


as 


in 


tot 


n as in net 


i 


as 


in 


feet 


oi as in bite 


g 


as 


in 


gig 


j ae in ^et 


X 


as 


in 


fit 


ci as in soil 


k 


as 


in 


kick 




q 


as 


in 


bet 


qi as in bats 


f 


as 


in 


fife 


Compound Consonantal 


a 


as 


in 


fat 


cu as in boat 


v 


as 


in 


valve 


ah as in ship 





as 


in 


lAt 


iu as in music 


z 


as 


in 


fizz 


zh as in a_zure 


c 


as 


in 


IjSst 


ou as in house 


B 


ae 


in 


_8auce 


th as in thin 


u 


as 


in 


pjit 




W 


as 


in 


wall 


dh as in this 


y 


as 


in 


fpqjd 


Consonants J 


h 


as 


in 


hall 


ng as in sin^ 


X 


as 


in 


bijt 


b as in bib 


r 


as 


in 


red 


hw as in wj^at 


1 

e 


ae 


in 


around 


p as in pop 


1 


as 


in 


led 


tsh as in cljoice 










d as in did 


m 


as 


in 


met 


dzh as in jjaw 










Plate 


5. 











alphabet and, in addition, the symbol 'y." No capital letters are used, thus 
eliminating rules for capitalization and need for two types of letters, fia a h 
fundamotal Bn)-:lioh Bownd i s rapr aea ntad fay on a ^ a fct a r o b a c ombia fc t io n o f — 
l e tt e »» . Each fundamental English sound is represented by one letter or a 
combination of letters, thus attaining a simple, consistent system. The system 
is presented in Plate 5» and in Plate 6 is shown the transcription of Joyce 
Kilmer's "Trees." 

THE ADOPTION OF THE PRACTICAL SYSTEMi 

Wiy is this system superior to those already mentioned! Why ie 
the system practical? liVhat are its advantages? First of all, the system is 
phonetic, reasonably accurate for practical purposes, and employs only twenty- 
seven symbols. No capital letters are u8-3d, thus eliminating the evils of 
capitalization, as well as those of spelling. The system is entirely free 



V 



-4- 



from confusing diacritical marks. Typewriters and type would not have to be 
changedj causing no confusion or expense. 

Immediately, difficulties begin to present themsslvas. V.'ill not 
the change be difficult and confusing? Will not present writings become 
antiquated/ like those of Chaucer and Bede? Perhaps the easiest way to an- 
swer is to cite the case of Turkey. Turkey accomplished a siiL^ilar change in 
, —~ . J 1926, going from the old Arabic 



tr^z 

oi thingk dhat oi shal nqver e^ 

e pcuem Ixvli az e tr/, 

e trj^ hyz hxnggri mouth iz prqet 

egqntst dhji erthe Bwet flcuing brqet, 

e tr/ dhat luks at god ol dqi 

and lifts her Ij^fi ormz tu prqij 

e trji dhat mqi in sxmer wqr 

e nqst ev robenz in her hqr; 

xpcn hyz buzem sncu haz Iqin; 

hy intemetli livz with rqin. 

pcuemz or mqid boi fylz loik mjiJ, 

bxt ounli god kan mqik e trji. 

— dzhoie kilmer 

Plate 6. 



script symbols to the Roman 
characters, a transition far more 
difiloult than that which I am 
BugL,e sting. Their transition 
seemed difficult at first, but 
the cliange was well worth the 
effort. 

I hope the day will 



oome when a system, such as that 
which I have propoaed, will be realized. Day by day, things in the world 
about us are being streamlined, being made more standard, being made more 
scientific. Let us, then, see that the streamlining of the English spelling 
system will become a reality. 



-5- 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 

1. Encyclopoedia Britarmica, l4th Edition, Volume 16. Phonstics * 

2. Webster's Collegiote Dictionary, 5th Sdtion. 

5« Encyclopoedia Americana, I^J-^^j Volume 21, Phonetics . 

4. New International Encyclopoedia, 2nd Edition, Volume 21, Spelling Reform . 

5. National Geographic ivlagazine. Volume IV, January I929. Turkey Goes to 

School , by k. 0. Williama, p. 94. 

6. Encyclopoedia Americana, 1952, Volume 25. Spelling; Reform .